Young's Old Nick Barley Wine Ale
Young & Co Brewery PLC

Young's Old Nick Barley Wine AleYoung's Old Nick Barley Wine Ale
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Barleywine - English
3.97 | pDev: 10.08%
Young & Co Brewery PLC
England, United Kingdom
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Young's Old Nick Barley Wine AleYoung's Old Nick Barley Wine Ale
View: Beers
Reviews: 315 | Ratings: 330 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by kmo1030:
Photo of kmo1030
kmo1030 from Massachusetts

4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

deep dark redish brown with a light tan head. nice dark cherry fruity nose, port like. toffee, caramel, mild chocolate and slight cidery aromas. the taste is very juicy and complex. chocolate covered cherries are what comes to mind immediately. toffee, plum, caramel, a hint of vanilla with a slight woody flavor and bit of hops to finish things off. i pick up some strawberries as it warms too. fizzy carbonation with a full body. a nice mellow barleywine, with some nice complexity. very drinkable.

Jan 03, 2005
More User Reviews:
Photo of Mitchster
Mitchster from Michigan

3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ah, a classic Barley-Wine. Even though there are certainly better, this was my first exposure to the world of Barley-Wines, so it has some sentimental value. Clear, ruby-amber in color with a dark beige head and a whipped-egg consistency after a vigorous pour. Head thins some-what but never disappears, perched atop medium-sized bubbles and medium-light carbonation. Lacing is sparse. Aroma is of a fruity fermentation, metals, sweet amber malts, butterscotch, and some phenolic alcohols. Mouthfeel is not as smooth as I prefer, and cloying with a firm, sticky body. Taste begins with initially harsh fermentation by-products, fades into a subtle metallic note, some tolerable alcohols, then gives way to the main attraction...lots of sticky malts with caramelized sugars, raisin and date characters, and ending in a smooth, well-balanced lingering sweetness. A good example of the style but not my favorite. The metals and harsh initial mouthfeel detract from the enjoyment. As the beer warms, the alcohols and mouthfeel simmer, and the malt livens up, making for a much more enjoyable drink. I highly recommend to pour it first, then let it warm up to 55F before drinking it.

Mar 01, 2003
Photo of Darkale
Darkale from Virginia

4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Nice, sweet, high malty aroma. Clean mahogany brown body. Tan, creamy, thick and resilient head. Excellent lacing -- it just hangs onto the sides in sheets.

Very creamy mouthfeel -- wonderful. You just want to hold it in your mouth forever.

Taste reflects a good, basic barleywine, rich and slightly burning. Perhaps not as thick and rambunctious as some contemporary versions of the style, but still foamy and creamy enough for anyone, and also lacking in the bitter burning of some stronger and more alcoholic barley wines, with just a shade of charcoal in the aftertaste. A solid, reliable, and tasty beer.

Jun 09, 2003
Photo of WaltTrombone
WaltTrombone from New York

3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It must be stated that I'm a big fan of this brewery, especially their stouts. One of these days, I hope to go to England and try them from a cask!

This poured a dark, hazy maroon, with a tan head that went fast. The aroma was mild, with caramel, malt, and cola. Served at cellar temps, BTW. The taste was slanted towards the sweet and mild, with malt, prunes, raisins, and caramel. The mouthfeel was syrupy, with a light carbonation. The finish was malt and prunes, with some light bitter hops finally making their well-balanced appearance.

This barleywine would make a good introduction to the style, as the ABV and the hoppiness are not over the top, like, say a SN Bigfoot. Old Nick whispers his temptations, getting you started on the path of barleywine...

Jul 09, 2003
Photo of Reidrover
Reidrover from Oregon

3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ok bought in the typical Youngs brown bottle..slightly effiminate "Old Nick" on the label ;-).
Beer pours a gorgeous dark red almost claret in colour..with a small off white head..goes quick but good lacing is left behind.
Smell is mostly dark coffee style maltiness..not very pronounced though.
mmnice creamy "chewy" malty taste..with a very pronounced alchol kick..feels like malt molasses..sticky in a good way.
Very creamy on the palate yet it leaves many flavour profiles ..good after taste.
This is nice beer but i fear i could drink only one pint at a sitting in the the dead of winter maybe 3

Jun 12, 2003
Photo of Redrover
Redrover from Wisconsin

4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer comes packaged in the classic & stylish Young’s bottle. The devil on the label looks awfully satisfied about something. No apparent freshness dating.

Beer pours a nice dark brown that has hints of ruby. Massive & dense tan head. Average lacing.

The beer has a delightful nose of plums, licorice & hardy candy. The alcohol aroma kind of lurks in the background.

My initial taste impression is sweet like candied fruit. The brewer does a nice job of hiding the 7.2% behind the flavors. As the beer warms, it takes on another slight shading and I get some plum and nectarine type taste. About 2/3rds through the glass, I get a light nutty taste and a little something that reminds me of those big Dutch pretzels. Nice complex beer. Please be sure to serve at proper temperature for maximum taste impact.

The mouthfeel is hard to describe. It is slightly oily with a sharp edge. Drinkabity is tougher. Wonderful beer to savor and enjoy. Not sure I would have more than in a sitting, but I would not mind having a couple a week.

This is another wonderful product from the brewers at Youngs, I guess I now know why the Devil has that look on its face.

Aug 04, 2004
Photo of dwarbi
dwarbi from New York

4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a malty-top, slightly off-white head, that's a good mix of big bubble and little bubbles. Smells primarily of oak, but also a little sweet, like cherry. Can taste some fruit, and a little bite of alcohol. Feels thick and creamy in the mouth... and very smooth. A very drinkable barley wine.

May 17, 2003
Photo of vitesse
vitesse from Georgia

4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

this beer is a class act. very dignified barley wine...or should i say barleywine-style ale. whichever.
anyway, pours a bright red/brown color. beautiful cascading foamy head that retains very well. smell is of fruits (apricots?) and slight alcohol essence.
taste really comes on strong with the fruity esters. hint of breadiness in the malts. mouthfeel is nice. not too chewy, but thick enough to be a very special beer. not a hoppy one.
damn drinkable, too. the alcohol goes along for the ride and doesn't get in the way.
i recommend this excellent english-style barley wine.

Nov 03, 2003
Photo of cbl2
cbl2 from New York

3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


A hazy mahogany brown with an immense tan head.


Roasted caramel malt is the predominant odor.


Smooth and sweet with some great malt characteristic in the first sip. Slowly replaced by a subtle hoppyness that rides out the flavor til the finish. One of the better Barley Wines I've ever had.

Jun 15, 2004
Photo of kbub6f
kbub6f from New York

3.25/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bought locally (Grapevine refrigerated shelves), a few days in my fridge, reviewed 50F-65F.

I poured this beer vigorously and got a fairly large, tan, bubbly head that condenses to a really nice layer of heavy cream. Eventually it dissipates to a thin film of tan foam. The lacing is fine, but disappears. The color of the beer is deep red/brown.

The smell is sweet and fruity with toffee and yeast. I really like the aroma. There's a "pre-front" aroma of dust (inhaling just before tasting).

The beer starts a little too sweet for me. Lots of caramel. Then molasses. The finish is bready and slightly cloying. The feel is not bad: it's creamy, but there's no warmth.

With this much malt, I need more of everything else. This one wasn't bad, but it really didn't do it for me: no "wow!".

Feb 24, 2003
Photo of Quaffer
Quaffer from Nevada

3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16.9 oz. Bottle. Love both the graphics and the style of the bottle.

Appearance: This beer was deep brown and murky; probably darker than just about any other barley wine that I have had. A semi-fluffy, light tan head rose up and disappeared rather quickly. It was soon reduced to a thin ring of foam around the circumference of the glass. There wasn't any lacing.

Smell: The aroma consisted of sweet malt, bananas, cherries, and alcohol. The smell resembled a Belgian abby or Trappist beer.

Mouthfeel: This was a medium-bodied brew that was fairly smooth, but with a bit of bite. The beer had a light coating effect in the mouth.

Taste: The taste upfront was all sweet malt and caramel. Then in the middle rose a tart cherry flavor that persisted into the finish. Also on the finish was a reprise of the caramel, plus some alcohol and a very light hops bitterness. The hops was more of an aftertaste than anything.

A solid beer. Not huge or overly complex, but very enjoyable. This was the very first barley wine that I ever read about back when I started to get serious about beer. However, this is my first time trying it. It's great to sample a brew like this that has been a benchmark of the style for so long.

Jul 23, 2003
Photo of beernbbq
beernbbq from Connecticut

4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Having drank only American Barleywine-style, it was definitely nice to try the real deal. Pours a beautiful brown with a creamy tan head. Smell is definite resiny hop with a little bit of the sea in there for good measure. Taste is more hoppy than most English beers I have had lately and the mouthfeel is creamy. I think my bottle was a bit youngish, but you would definitely have an easy time drinking this.

Jan 24, 2004
Photo of nomad
nomad from Kansas

3.35/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured an almost chestnut color, seemed hazy, with a thin mocha head. Smelling of currants, quite "real" smelling in the sense that it had stem and skin characteristics to it. Also, some slight sweet woodiness and some oily hop scents that were very fresh in nature. Taste was a complex blend of cherry, toffee, and dark toast with a twang at the finish; opened to more of a sweet taste. Had an oily tart and citric bitter hop finish that doesn’t taste too good. Also had a thin slick oil after a moderate mouthfeel. Okay, not an appealing version of the style.

Aug 11, 2003
Photo of SamuraiJack
SamuraiJack from Oregon

3.21/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This is an interesting beer as the flavour changed rather dramatically over time.
While it's not a *bad* beer, at the end of the day it's not to my taste I have to say.
Initial pour shows a very attractive red-brown rather foamy head that become nice lace over time. There is a strong sweet aroma with heavy notes of diacetyl and noticable alcohol.
Initial taste is one of overwhelming grain, fruit, butterscotch and alcohol. Very full bodied, but not balanced. As time passed, the alcohol begins to mellow and the malt and toasted grains begin to be noticable. The diacetyl becomes more noticable and sadly the hops never really rise to the occassion to balance out the other flavours. Aftertaste is one of sweet grain and butter toffee.
Not my favorite Young's beer.

Feb 09, 2003
Photo of Tballz420
Tballz420 from Minnesota

4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This guy has a dark brown body, with amber hues showing through. Fluffy tan head, nice lace trail remains. A nice english malt scent is present. As for the flavor, big malt taste, mainly chocolate, with a nice bitter hop contrast. Slight alcohol spice is detected, as well as a dark-fruit-like taste. As is to be expected, not as intense as its american counterparts (or rightly stated, the americans are more intense and less-refined). Delicious.

May 08, 2004
Photo of canucklehead
canucklehead from Canada (BC)

4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Not a barley wine by modern standards but rather a complex old ale that delivers all fronts. Fruity and yeasty on the nose with a real big finish that screams winter warmer. The English style is still apparent but depth of flavour is always there. Worth the purchase

Apr 02, 2007
Photo of tavernjef
tavernjef from Minnesota

3.14/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Nice looking deep dark mahogany with a solid fluffed froth just under an inch tall, big bubbles appear opposite from the pour, settles silky and whipped creamy with a tannish hue, finally dissipating to a thin ring, lace in spotty drippings. Aroma is faint of sweet malt, somewhat caramel and toffee sweet with some dark fruityness of plum and dates, no hops detected really, a bit floral, but seemed more like a dopplebock nose then anything. Taste is all malts and lightly flavored with mostly some toffeeish flavor coming through with some hinting caramel and dark fruit of plum and some raisin. Hops where are you? There's an emptyness to this that's just plain and boring. Finishes dry and with woodish notes lingering. Its mostly all malts, and not very thick and or charcterized with a fullness that I expect out of a BW. Maybe I've had too many Batch 6000's lately but this was quite boring and I nearly gave up at half way but I kept the sacrifice going in the name of trying all things good or bad. Feel is a bit thin in places but has a good medium body with a lingering light chewy smoothness that was really the only thing I found to my liking, somewhat; but is overall a overly malty and weak offering and will skip even conceiving opening my bottle from 94'. Passable.

Dec 07, 2003
Photo of crazyspicychef
crazyspicychef from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Why they discontinued this amazing beverage I will never understand.
Used to be a Christmas staple.
Good things never last.

Nov 12, 2020
Photo of HardTarget
HardTarget from Texas

4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle Inspection: Raised marking on the brown 12 fl oz. bottle show sheep and brewery name. Label suggests serving at 50 – 55 degrees and lists 7.2% abv. No carbonation release noted as I opened the bottle, but poured up a nice head as I poured into a pint glass.

Aroma: Dark fruited malt base and hints of alcohol. Mild overall aroma

Appearance: Bruised purple brown color, good clarity when back lit, small but plucky tan cover that fades to a thin ring without lacing.

Flavor: Plum skin, raisins, all the classic dark fruit tastes, all soaked in alcohol for a month or two. For all the malt taste, it’s not overly sweet, it’s actually fairly balanced but no hops detected. If the aroma is mild, the taste is not. Full flavor without any harsh edge

Mouthfeel: Heavy body triggers a quick chew, very low carbonation level, and leaves a hefty coat but dries out quickly.

Overall Impression: A slow sipper, but the flavor makes the stops between sips very short leading to a dangerous drinkability. A very nice warmer for a cold and wet Texas winter evening.

Feb 11, 2006
Photo of TheDM
TheDM from Indiana

3.06/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This brew poured a small head of fine to medium sized light brown bubbles that as it receded left very little lacing. Its body was a translucent dark brown. It has aroma that I was unable to place It was not bad, but not much to my liking either. It was a very strange brew for me and is the least liked of the beers from Youngs that I have tasted to date.

Jul 15, 2003
Photo of sulldaddy
sulldaddy from Connecticut

4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am sampling a room temp bottle in a tumbler. The beer pours a deep chestnut hue with a 2 cm fluffy beige head foaming up. Aroma is mostly caramel, raisins, brown sugar, molasses with just a slight grassy hop presence. Hops are super mild.
The first sip reveals a thinner body than expected. There is very fine yet tingly carbonation that tingles as I drink the beer.
The flavor is dominated by malt and sweetness with some caramel and brown sugar mixing with dark fruits of raisins and red grape. The alcohol is well hidden with just a bit of warming on the swallow.
The beer is very drinkable and sneaks up on me just a bit by the end of the bottle. A great example to start somebody down the road of barleywines as it is easily drinkable!

Jan 26, 2006
Photo of ChrisBowers
ChrisBowers from Virginia

4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, this really surprised me, probably my favorite young's beer. Pours a dark ruby with very lively carbonation. It settles down after decanting. Smell is fruity and somewhat sweet. Taste is so smooth, fruity, some caramel malts, some dark chocolate in the finish. Nice, rich mouthfeel, not cloying like some barleywines. An immensely drinkable barleywine. Must pick up some more...

May 10, 2005
Photo of jed
jed from Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Comes in a brown, 16.9 oz bottle with the Young's logo and a picture of a devil. Small blurb about the beer on the back of the bottle, along with a freshness date: best before the end of October, 2005. Poured into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a very dark, almost stout-like brown color. Relatively uniform color throughout, with some lighter ruby areas near the bottom of the glass. About one half-finger of head; brown lacing trails the glass as the head disappears.

Aroma: Warm, rich aroma of restrained alcohol with undercurrents of dark fruit. Some caramel aromas lingering under the alcohol.

Taste: Nose of sweet alcohol tempered by hop bitterness. Smooth, buttery flavor. Dark fruit comes in to play, along with an unidentifiable spice. Hops become more assertive, balancing the dark fruit and caramel sweetness. Fruit comes out more as the beer warms at room temperature. Finish is smooth, with a distinctive, lingering bitterness. Excellent.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, with well-integrated alcohol that never dominates.

Drinkability: A perfect sipping beer to enjoy after 14 inches of snow, yet light enough that you could drink one at the end of a session without knocking yourself out.

While most of the American barleywines I've sampled focus on overpowering hop profiles, it's nice to see Young & Co balance the hops with a more complex sweetness. The alcohol is perfectly intergrated into this beer, coming into the flavor but never dominating. Another excellent offering from Young & Co, recommended.

Jan 24, 2005
Photo of findlayfan
findlayfan from Ohio

4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Haven't had one of these in years - picked up a 500 ML last month at Vine & Table (formerly Kahn's) in Indianapolis. Best by date of 17 Aug 07, but that should be close enough for a barleywine (even a "mild" 7.2% one).

Poured into Imperial pint: dark-but-clear red/brown body with 1"+ off-white head. Sweet, malty nose - almost reminded me of a doppelbock.

Some doppelbock qualities in the taste as well and a medium mouthfeel.

Very pleasant way to finish off a winter evening. If there's such a thing as a session barleywine, this is probably it.

Nice to get reaquainted!

Feb 12, 2008
Photo of Stingray5
Stingray5 from New York

4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours ruby red with a nice beige head that lasts. Fruity aroma with some nuttiness. Nice caramel malt and raisins in the taste.
Mouthful a little thinner than expected, but smooth and highly drinkable as a result. Flavors taper off a bit at the finish - like there's no finish at all. It just disappears. So I drink more.

May 07, 2005
Young's Old Nick Barley Wine Ale from Young & Co Brewery PLC
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 330 ratings